2023 Yallarm STEM camp: a collaborative partnership with Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre, Monadelphous and CQUniversity

2023 Yallarm STEM camp: a collaborative partnership with Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre, Monadelphous and CQUniversity

Last week saw the running of the fourth annual ‘Yallarm STEM camp’ for Year 8 Indigenous students across the Gladstone Region.

It is well documented that First Nations students are well underrepresented in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics fields (STEM), and the team at the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre (BIEEC) knew that this was a group with whom they could foster a deep engagement within learning in the STEM arena. This residential learning experience utilised an appreciation for working on Country in the environment and incorporated hands-on learning throughout the camp.

This invitational camp provided an incredible opportunity for young people of our region to engage in real-world, hands-on STEM in a safe community environment. With a strong collaboration from funding partner Monadelphous and partnerships with CQUniversity, the students from four different local schools came together to participate in a range of activities over their 4 day experience. The schools included were Tannum Sands State High School, Mount Larcom State School, Gladstone State High School and Chanel College.

Connection to country through an authentic ‘welcome to country’ with Uncle Mick Eggmolesse, a proud Byellee elder, set the tone of the camp.  Uncle Mick spoke about strong culture and opportunity for young people and also unpacked the word ‘Yallarm’, which is Gladstone’s Gooreng Gooreng place name meaning ‘place of shells’ along with the Byellee name for Gladstone being Gaardabye (pronounced gard-a-bye).

“Engineering design was explored through the design, creation, and testing of rafts to navigate the Boyne River. Science fair testing and field data collection occurred out in the environment as ‘biologists’ with a trip to Facing Island exploring the diverse ecosystems. Students also utilised scientific tools such as microscopes to uncover the world of plankton. Technology was deeply embedded throughout the week and students were excited to investigate this by attending the STEM Central facility at CQU where drones, robotics and augmented reality were on the agenda. Real world experiences such as a site tour of the local Monadelphous workshop also opened students’ eyes to the local opportunities in our backyard. Students also incorporated the Arts into the camp with a STEAM opportunity completing some eco-art where students foraged on country to create their own textured masterpieces interpreting what country means to them,” said BIEEC Principal, Michael Gabriel.

“Students are not only immersed in engaging learning experiences in STEM education but have the opportunity to live together for the week in a small community environment, interacting with students from various schools and backgrounds which directly contributes to their personal and social wellbeing and development which is incredibly powerful.”

Students represented their schools, their families, their culture and themselves with respect and pride during this wonderful week of learning, which will be set to make a return in 2024.

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